Deciding on a Platform for Your Community

(Sarah Hawk) #1

Here are a couple of useful resources if you’re at the stage of deciding on a platform for your community.

A crowdsourced list of platforms put together by FeverBee Experts.

And there’s always The Online Community Software Selection Guide.

This LinkedIn post also contains some valuable information about vendor requirements.

(Rob Bosch) #2

There are a LOT different forum solutions. Often used as community platform, but what makes a solution a good community solution? Or should I ask: what makes a solution a good platform for your community?

(Laura McCullum) #3

Great question! Picking the right community platform is very important! The choice you make in choosing the tool you will use could make or break your initiative.

Here are some things for you to consider:

  • Use Cases: Take a good look at the use cases you are trying to implement. Each platform has it’s strong points and you want to make sure that the platform itself can execute on your key uses for the community. Define the key actions you want your members to take in the community and dig into those functions of the community platforms you are looking at. For example; if one of your use cases is to allow members to ask questions, you want to make sure the platform has good question functionality.

  • Customizations: Does your IT have specific requirements or do you have specific business needs that require customization of the platform? Sometimes there are strict rules from the IT departments that require you to customize the platform. You want to make sure that you are choosing a platform where those customizations are possible. For example; a specific SSO installment or user view requirements. I am currently managing a community that required 1 platform, but 2 different community experiences, based on login. We needed to make sure that the platform that we chose would allow for different user views.

  • Upgrade-ability: Along with customizations, you want to ensure that anything you add or change in the community will be able to upgrade when the platform has updates and enhancements. You don’t want to change the community so much that you are stuck in a specific version of that platform and add more costs to upgrade it.

  • Over-Purchasing: there are so many different platforms out there, you want to make sure to choose one that has the functionality you need. Don’t buy into the bells and whistles if you don’t need them. A lot of the platforms have a ton of functions, but if you don’t need all of them, it can be distracting or overwhelming for the users. There is no need to purchase a platform that has 10 functions when you are only going to utilize 5 of them.

Overall, look at your community strategy and find the platform that can execute on it and not distract from it. Good luck in your platform journey!

(Rob Bosch) #4

Thanks for the reply. But if you start from scratch, most of the future needs are not clear yet. This makes an initial choice extremely difficult.
In my case, I came to a ready situation where a well working tool already is in place. But in other communities where I am active, I see a lot of limitations with their current platform and I would love to see those changed.
I think that because of those limitations, the activity is very low. Too low for the amount of members.
This is getting slightly offtopic, but besides the 1-9-90 rule, how can you prove that the community (platform) needs a different approach? I think I will need to convince the project leaders that action is necessary.